Talking about mental health is not a weakness — we need to break the stigma

I remember the day I decided to take my own life, that moment was the first time I’d had clarity of thought for as long as I could remember.  There was a huge sense of relief that I had finally realised how I could take back control over what was happening to me.  The irony was that things in my life had never been so good.  I had just become a father for the first time (my daughter was 6 months old), I had a wonderful supportive and caring wife, a lovely home, and a great group of family and friends around me.  However, by this stage anxiety and depression had taken over.

I'm trying my best, like everyone else - don't treat me like a burden

I often feel like people in my life can be caring…but only for a short time and only if it doesn’t interfere with their own lives. 

There are times I haven’t left my bed for 3 or 4 days. My thoughts have turned against me. My mind battles to stay alive. I hear an overwhelming voice telling me my friends hate me, that they’re talking about me, laughing at me or plotting against me. 

At first it feels like my friends care, check in and worry about me. But soon it feels like I’m a burden and I hear things from them that aren’t helpful.

Opening a dialogue made it easier to ask for support

I first started feeling really low and struggling around two year ago. Two years on and it regularly feels like I’m still stuck in that darkness.

Social media, TV and films seem to romanticise the battles that people with mental health problems face, and feed the idea that people hit a sudden turning point in their recovery and it’s all uphill from there. Well that’s wrong; at least it was for me. I reached breaking point a few months later, after months of lying to all those around me and becoming so isolated that I could barely leave my bedroom.

I can't just "turn off" my anxiety - it's an illness

Many people think that people like me, with anxiety or depression can wake up one day and decide to ‘get better’. That I can wake up one day and decide to ‘smile, drink coffee and deal with it’. But anxiety isn’t something that I can just ‘turn off’. 

Anxiety isn’t something that I choose to have on a Monday and choose to not have on a Sunday. Anxiety isn’t a decision. It isn’t a voluntary thing that I want in my life day in and day out. I can’t just ‘choose to be happy’.

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